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How to Layer Necklaces Without Tangling

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Person wearing three different gold necklaces layered

Are you a jewelry-loving fashionista who wants to wear several necklaces at once? If you agree with style icon Iris Apfel’s motto, “More is more and less is a bore,” you probably love a good necklace stack (a.k.a. a  “neck mess”). Layering two, three or even more necklaces makes a statement about your unique style and creativity—and lets you tell a story with your jewels. 

A layered combination of necklaces is also a great way to make the most of your jewelry collection. Your layered necklaces can encompass a cherished memory, a riot of colors if that’s your thing, or a patchwork of shiny, glossy and matte textures. Whether you’re layering a pearl necklace with gold chains, or a strand of amber beads the color of sunshine with piles of pink opal “gumballs,” mixing diverse necklaces of different lengths can enhance any ensemble, casual or formal. All you need is a top or bodice with a great neckline to show them off!

Layering necklaces may be trending at this precise moment, but like so many jewelry moments, the look refers back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Pharaohs and emperors adorned themselves with layered gold necklaces as an indicator of wealth, power and prestige. Likewise during the Renaissance, European royalty and aristocrats layered ornate gem-studded necklaces, also to symbolize their social standing. 

In the past few years, the hashtag #neckmess has been trending on Instagram; social media influencers like Rocky Barnes and Elle Ferguson, along with jewelry style queens Taylor Swift and Rihanna, have helped to popularize the look while offering innumerable styling ideas. There are no “neck mess” rules—except for the more the merrier—as a mixed-not-matched approach to layering all sorts of metal chains and gemstone necklaces is the name of the game. 

 

How to create the perfect necklace stack 

When it comes to building the perfect necklace stack, there are no strict rules. However, nailing the right mix may take some trial and error. Read on for some direction, inspiration, and techniques.  

Before deciding which necklaces to layer, know that each necklace should be a different length to avoid overlap. Common lengths for necklaces include 14 inches (i.e., a choker), 16 inches (along the neckline), 18 inches (at or just past the collarbone), 20 inches (below the collarbone) and 24 inches (hits right at the breastbone). But feel free to experiment!

Start with just three necklaces and choose the boldest one to serve as the focal point or centerpiece of your layering story. The additional two necklaces should be assembled around the focal piece. Try a short diamond tennis necklace paired with a  drop pendant hanging from a longer chain (the centerpiece) and then add a colorful beaded necklace to create an eclectic mix. Expand on this basic formula with five or even seven necklaces; just ensure that each necklace offers a unique texture or design element. 

 

How to layer necklaces without tangling

The only problem with layering necklaces? Tangling! How do you avoid tangles (which can make your neck mess look messy indeed)? Fashion stylist, Alison Bruhn, told Marie Claire magazine, "The first thing I always suggest is to purchase a layering clasp (necklace detangler)." This small tool securely joins your necklaces, keeping them neatly arranged so your pieces don’t jumble. A layering clasp also simplifies the process of having to remove your necklaces one at a time.

Another method to avoid getting your necklaces tangled is to combine necklaces of contrasting textures, weights and styles. For example, a set of super delicate gold chains have a tendency to squish and curl up into each other, sometimes creating pesky knots. To space the necklaces out appropriately, try to allow for a two-inch gap between each necklace. You can even adjust necklace lengths by using necklace extenders and necklace shorteners to achieve your desired look.

Keep in mind the top you wear can significantly influence the success of your layered- necklace look. It’s best to select V-neck and scoop neck tops, or strapless or spaghetti straps so you have ample “real estate” to experiment with layering necklaces till you land the right mix. With a classic crew top, you can use longer necklaces (24”, 34”) and follow the spacing suggestions noted above.

And now for some more specific styling tips:

 

How to layer pearl necklaces 

Multi-strand pearl necklaces offer built-in layers. From Coco Chanel to Rihanna, layering ropes upon ropes of pearl necklaces is always a good call. You can choose pearls of varying sizes, shapes, and colors, including both freshwater and cultured pearls, round pearls, baroque pearls, seed pearls, or even pearl strands with irregular shapes. Try contrasting traditional pearls with bold metal chains, perhaps in oxidized silver, for a gorgeous elegant-meets-edgy mashup.

 

How to layer delicate necklaces

Try layering a delicate plain gold chain with a similarly delicate diamond station necklace and have the longest necklace dangle a petite charm or pendant (like an initial or flower). For layering such barely-there pieces, we recommend layering no more than three necklaces and to space out their lengths as described earlier. Otherwise, these dainty pieces are definitely likely to tangle! 

 

How to layer chain necklaces

Chains come in a variety of matte and shiny textures, widths, and styles so you can play with contrast by combining gold and silver chains or create a tone-on-tone story with a single metal color. There should be one foundational piece—the “hero” chain, the one that stands out—that becomes the focal point of your layered chains, effectively letting the others act as complements. You might find it helpful to imagine a bride with her bridesmaids where there is always a “leading lady” but the “supporting cast” pulls everything together in an eye-catching way.

 

How to layer chunky necklaces 

Mix chunky pieces—as in, necklaces with beads or oversized styles with elements in ceramic or acrylic—in a variety of lengths to create a delicious pile of colors and textures. It’s going to be a bold look and that’s okay—keep the different necklaces at the same level of “loud” for maximum impact. If you need a visual aid, get into this or this.  

Once you have assembled the perfect necklace stack, make sure you get your pieces insured by a reputable jewelry company like Jewelers Mutual. Obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual is an affordable option and covers loss, damage and disappearances. You can check your rate by clicking the button below. 

 

 

 

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.